I had the opportunity to talk with a room full of sales professionals who worked for a large, well-known prestigious newspaper. Their responsibilities included selling retail advertising space to small to mid-size companies.

The concept of was my primary point, and I set the scene by examining three areas responsible for sales.

Yes, a superior product can make life easy for you. Unfortunately, these products are becoming virtually extinct. Yes, price can carry a lot of weight at times. But anybody can low-ball a quotation at the expense of both profit and commission. And more and more people realize that you do get what you pay for.

Here is where the rubber meets the road and lasting relationships are formed. But value (and get this perfectly straight) is in the mind of the customer. Value can truly become the differentiator.

So how does one deliver value? Lets break it down. The only thing a customer cares about is their ability to make a profit on a consistent basis. Period.

So, if you buy into this theory, then it will behoove you to start thinking about your prospects and customers. Your job is to determine what is required for their success and then to decide if you can lend a hand in that direction.

This statement stems from the belief that when one company sales are down, their buying trends are certain to follow along the same path. So, if you are interested in improving a client’s buying, then you should be interested in how you can positively affect their sales.

When push comes to shove, there are three areas where you can legitimately help clients improve their place in the marketplace:

  1. You can help them solve current problems
  2. You can help them avoid future problems
  3. You can help them maximize the return on their investment with you

Once you learn how to hone in on these three areas, you will be well on your way toward establishing a value-based relationship with your customers.

Next, comes the fun part. You ask questions designed to arrive at the heart of the matter. You ask questions to flesh out information about problems, solutions and ROI.

That is the key my friends. Asking questions in a way that will get your prospects talking and expanding on their particular wants and needs.